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China's new arts center to include V&A gallery space

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-08-30 16:58

China's new arts center to include V&A gallery space

Design Society, located in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, will contain a gallery housing collections from London's V&A Museum, when it opens in December. [Photo/China Daily]

Britain's Victoria & Albert Museum and Chinese conglomerate China Merchants Group have confirmed their joint project, a new cultural center in Shenzhen, will open in December.

Experts from the V&A-the world's largest decorative art and design museum -have worked with Chinese partners over three years to help develop Design Society, a new cultural hub in the industrial city in south China.

Design Society, which is based in the Sea World Culture and Arts Centre in Shekou district, comprises a multi-purpose hall, theatre, restaurants, retail spaces and multiple galleries, including a new outpost of the V&A.

The first exhibition at the new V&A Gallery, which has been designed by London design studio Sam Jacob, will feature more than 250 products, furniture and graphic design pieces from 31 countries, spanning from 900 AD to the present day.

The V&A signed a five-year agreement in 2014 with industry and property conglomerate China Merchants Group to collaborate on the project, formerly called the Shekou Design Museum.

"The V&A has a long history of working in and with China,'' said Tim Reeve, the museum's deputy director."This project is enabling us to connect with the fast-moving design, manufacturing and creative scene here in Shenzhen, as well as sharing our collections, knowledge and expertise in one of the most energetic and progressive cities in the world."

The V&A is also collaborating on a cultural center in Dundee, Scotland, as the institution makes inroads into exporting museum design.

The move is part of a growing global trend. New York's Guggenheim Museum has a development in Bilbao, Spain, and is planning a gallery in Helsinki, Finland. France's world-famous Louvre Museum is looking to expand from Paris to Abu Dhabi.

"This pioneering collaboration between a UK museum and a Chinese partner is part of a new approach to our international engagement strategy,'' Reeve said."We are looking to develop new longer-term international collaborations, which enables us to engage in more creative ways, by building a global network of trusted partners with whom we can share the idea of the V&A."

Brendan Cormier, lead curator of the V&A gallery at Design Society, said the Shenzhen project forms part of a general shift in China away from mass production and toward design and innovation.

"There is perhaps no country banking more on design than China," Cormier said."Although the gallery will consist of objects in the V&A collection from around the world, our research for the show began first with trying to map out the current state of design in China."

He added: "The country is heavily committed to moving away from low-cost manufacturing by focusing instead on value-added design."

Design Society is scheduled to open on Dec 2.

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